NEWS

‘Plans In Place For Smooth Flow Of Operations’

Strategies are in place even though thousands of individuals including stakeholders,who benefit from the tourism industry,among them Air Terminal Services (ATS) stand to lose a lot if the striking workers
19 Dec 2017 11:58
‘Plans In Place For Smooth Flow Of Operations’
From left: An Air Terminal Services staff member dances with unionist Felix Anthony while SODELPA candidate Lynda Tabuya and unionist Daniel Urai look on on December 18, 2017. Photo: Charles Chambers

Strategies are in place even though thousands of individuals including stakeholders,who benefit from the tourism industry,among them Air Terminal Services (ATS) stand to lose a lot if the striking workers do not return to work.

Knowing that the effect of the strike on the country’s economy will be huge, already stakeholders such as Fiji Airways, Air New Zealand and Airports Fiji Limited have met to formulate a plan on what can be done if the workers do not accept the ATS Board’s decision and return to their posts.

What can happen? The services that ATS provides include catering and ground handling such as engineers. But if push comes to shove, these services can easily be provided by other companies.

Case in point is that Fiji Airways owns shares in Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa, which could be one option the National Airline may look at to provide its catering services while other international airlines carry their own food. For ground handling and ground staff, who clear international airlines before take-off, ATS acting chief executive officer Hare Mani has already asked international airlines to bring in their own engineers.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said steps have been put in place to help with the smooth flow of operations.

“As far as check-ins are concerned, this has been least disrupted as junior staff and Fiji Airways management stepped in to ensure that operations continued.

“So as we have seen, the operations at Nadi Internaitonal Airport has not stopped. The planes are still flying, some of the operations for example Fiji Airways in respect of their ability to fully cater for all the meals on the planes has been affected. Nonetheless they have improvised ways in which they are dealing with that situation.

“This morning (Monday) there was a meeting with all the stakeholders including AFL, CAAF, Air New Zealand, ATS and Fiji Airways and they basically put in place a strategy and a operational plan as to how they will cater with the  lack of staff.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said workers who went to the stop work protest have been issued with suspension letters for abandoning their posts during working hours.

“The situation on the ground of course is that there are some at ATS who are going to work, some of the areas of operation of ATS are resourced more than others. In some areas there are a high percentage of people going to work and in some areas there is a low percentage turnout,” he said.

“The reality as all Fijians know, we are an island economy. The main source of connectivity for all Fijians and also for tourists coming into this country come through Nadi International airport. So Nadi International Airport cannot afford to shut down nor can any airline afford to stop flying.”

The A-G said the Government was very concerned about what happened and he had shared this with workers when they had approached him for a meeting on Sunday.

“As a Government we are very focused on the fact that Nadi Internaitonal Airport cannot shut down,” he said.

“Planes need to keep on flying. This is essentially the message I gave to the workers when I met them on Sunday night. I received a phone call from one of the executives of the union,who said they wanted to meet up with us and I went down. I heard what he had to say and I presented our views.”

Edited by Percy Kean

Feedback:  lusiana.banuve@fijisun.com.fj



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